Basic Guide to Makeup Brushes

Do you feel befuddled by brushes? Are you asking yourself questions like…

“How many brushes should I buy?”

“Which brushes are the most important?”

“What is this brush for?”

If that’s you, we’re here to answer all your basic brush questions! Whether you’re starting your career as a makeup artist or simply need brushes to apply your own makeup, there are a handful of specific brushes that will allow you to achieve just about any look you’re after.


There are four staple eye brushes that everyone should own: flat stiff brush, stiff dome brush, soft dome brush, and pencil brush. Each is responsible for color application on a different area of the eye.

  1. Flat Stiff Brush—A flat stiff brush is used to pack color on the lid. It must be stiff in order to pick up plenty of color and the flat surface allows for even eyeshadow application.
  2. Stiff Dome Brush—A stiff dome brush is used for placing color in the crease, feathering in darker eyeshadows, and creating the perfect smoky eye.
  3. Soft Dome Brush—A soft dome brush is very similar to the Stiff Dome Brush, but that’s right, softer! It’s used for applying your transition shade, diffusing the crease, and blending color under the brow.
  4. Pencil Brush—A pencil brush’s tiny tip allows for precise color application. It’s used for smudging eyeshadow along the lower lash line, smoking out eyeliner, and creating a defined crease.


There are really just a few brushes you need for the face (many can be used for multiple products): stippling brush, contour brush, angled blush brush, highlighter brush. Your needs will depend slightly on what you choose to wear, but these are the four face brushes we use on a daily basis.

  1. Stippling Brush—A stippling brush is used for pressing foundation into the skin. The bristles should be stiff to avoid streaking and to allow for an airbrushed finish.
  2. Contour Brush—A contour brush is used for applying darker powder under the cheekbones to create a chiseled effect. While this brush isn’t absolutely necessary, contouring will make your cheekbones stand out and give your face a slimmer appearance.
  3. Angled Blush Brush—An angled blush brush is used for applying powder blush to the cheeks. The soft angled bristles won’t pick up too much color and will make blending a breeze.
  4. Highlighter Brush—A highlighter brush is one of those multipurpose brushes. It can be used to lightly apply foundation, apply blush to the apples of the cheeks, and obviously, apply highlight to the tops of the cheekbones. Small soft bristles apply will apply your product sparingly.

Essential to any makeup kit, the proper tools will make a world of difference in your makeup application. Happy makeup brush shopping!

Posted in Makeup Basics on (last modified: February 24, 2016)